A martial art is a method of hand-to-hand combat used to defend oneself against an attacker, or to attack an attacker or potential attacker. That is the bottom line! You may think your martial art is a sport, that it is a fitness requiem, or that it is an enjoyable hobby, but if it will not stop an attacker intent on seriously injuring or killing you, then that is all it is.
First, let us assume you are assaulted by someone. Legally, an assault is the threat to do harm with a clear and present ability to carry out the threat, coupled with an overt action toward carrying out the threat. For example, if I say am going to punch your lights out; that is a threat. You cannot physically attack someone for making a threat. If I cock my fist in preparation for the punch, whether or not I actually throw the punch, I have then made the overt action. Can you now kick my butt? Not yet! You still cannot legally attack me in self-defense. I must also have the clear and present ability to carry out the threat. For example, if I am confined to a wheelchair and cannot possible reach you with a punch, then I have not committed an assault. You cannot legally defend yourself against an attack that cannot possibly occur.
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